The Democratic Party in the US just enacted reforms not dissimilar to those that paved the way for Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to the leadership of the Labour Party in Britain. By taking power from party elites and putting it in the hands of the grassroots, the Democrats could have their own Corbyn moment in the run-up to the 2020 presidential elections.
Overwhelming vote for reform
On 25 August, the party held a vote to radically change the process for selecting its candidate for presidential elections. Taken during a meeting of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in Chicago, party members voted overwhelmingly in favor of reforms that will remove the outsized role of establishment party figures in state primary races.
There’s clearly a leftward trend taking place in the US Democratic Party. Several candidates with proposals similar to those of Bernie Sanders, for example, are likely to enter Congress in the 2018 mid-term elections. This could mark the beginning of a significant pro-Palestinian voice in the US political system. And the pro-Israel lobby is already reacting harshly.
In June of this year, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shocked the US political system by beating Joe Crowley in a New York Democratic Party primary race. Many saw the victory of the openly democratic socialist Ocasio-Cortez over an establishment centrist as one of the biggest political upsets in recent US history.
Following Donald Trump’s re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, several media outlets have been reporting that Iran recently unveiled its latest ballistic missile. But all is not as it seems. Because these reports contain a startlingly manipulative and misleading omission.
On 13 August, a number of publications (including France24, Breitbart News and The Times of Israel) published articles reporting that the Iranian government had unveiled a new weapon. The reports appear to have originated from an article from Agence France-Presse, a French newswire similar to Reuters. And they quote Iranian defense minister Amir Hatami as saying:
Since Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, it has become increasingly clear that the US is thoroughly isolated on the issue. All kinds of experts have been piling on the criticism. But now, a nuclear expert and former Iranian diplomat has gone so far as to describe the re-imposition of the sanctions as a “very dangerous” act of war.
“Unprecedented” and “very dangerous”
Seyed Hossein Mousavian played a key role in the negotiations that led up to the Obama-era deal in 2015. He is now a nuclear policy specialist at Princeton University. And on 13 August, he spoke to Democracy Now! about the wider geopolitical dimensions of Trump’s withdrawal from the deal.
Donald Trump’s ‘Space Force’ proposal is making headlines.
Fortunately, rising socialist star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had the perfect response for him on Twitter.
On 9 August, US Vice-President Mike Pence announced that the Trump administration will submit to congress a bill to establish a ‘Space Force’. This new branch of the military would be dedicated solely to military operations in space. Pence said he hopes the program will be operational by 2020. He also provided an operational cost estimate of roughly $8bn per year.
Mexico’s newly elected president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (aka ‘AMLO’), has some bold new ideas for bringing Mexico’s spiralling violence under control. Recently, he proposed refunnelling US aid earmarked for state security forces into more benign projects. But his proposals might result in a rocky relationship with his country’s northern neighbor.
From quiet to chaotic
Beginning in the early 2000s, Mexico went from a relatively peaceful Latin American country to being one of the most violent places in the world. A report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies found that Mexico’s homicide rate in 2016 exceeded that of all but one of the countries officially considered to be in a situation of armed conflict. And things have only got worse since then. 2017 was Mexico’s deadliest year on record; and 2018 is already surpassing that, with May 2018 recorded as the bloodiest month in the country’s entire history.
Long-time Israeli ally Colombia has now officially recognized Palestine as a “free, independent and sovereign state”. It joined over 100 other countries around the world, becoming the last in South America to do so.
Letter to Ramallah
The move was made by the outgoing Santos administration in Colombia. Former foreign minister María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar signed it on 3 August.
The announcement, however, came after the swearing in of Colombia’s new President Iván Duque on 7 August. The following day, Colombia sent the letter to Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Malki.
On 5 August, the New York Times Magazine published an article entitled Losing Earth about the history of climate change activism in the US. The paper’s writer-at-large Nathaniel Rich recounts the roles that some key players had in bringing the concept to public and political attention between 1979 and 1989. Amongst these figures are Rafe Pomerance, a Washington lobbyist for Friends of the Earth, geophysicist Gordon MacDonald, James Hansen of the Goddard Space Institute, and a then-thirty-something congressman named Al Gore (who, of course, would later become vice-president and famous in the climate movement for his film An Inconvenient Truth).
Rich argues that the opportunity existed in the late 1980s, when the science had been largely settled and with the issue enjoying bipartisan support, to take the necessary action to contain the impending crisis being caused by carbon dioxide emissions. The front cover of the magazine consists of an entirely blank black page, with one sentence in white across its middle: “Thirty years ago, we could have saved the planet.” Rich suggests that there was a growing movement in the US congress and wider political community to introduce binding international treaties, with the US taking a leadership role.
Donald Trump has now unilaterally imposed sanctions on Iran. But he continues to give Israel a free pass.
As the US-Iran nuclear deal is formally destroyed, little attention is given to the obvious hypocrisy of Washington’s stance toward Israel – the only country in the Middle East with a nuclear arsenal, which gets the opposite treatment to Iran. And that hypocrisy must be stressed, consistently.
The mainstream Western press has been making an almighty song-and-dance about allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. But most reports gloss over Washington’s own long record of meddling in other countries’ elections.
The allegations have been dominating headlines on-and-off for over 18 months now. They picked up steam again recently after President Trump’s meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki. Trump came in for harsh criticism for his apparent siding with the Russian president when he stated that he believed Putin’s protestations of innocence regarding any foul play. Critics were quick to scoff, pointing out that Trump’s own country’s intelligence organizations are adamant that Russian interference did take place.